American Record Guide
, April 2007
Child prodigy Busoni (1866-1924) composed most of his 40 songs before 1885, and the here was written when he was 12. While they are not a major portion of his output, they do reveal a gift for illuminating texts, some of them not terribly profound (e.g. "Merry blood and light spirit and what's lost is lost! Amen!"from Rudolf Baumbach's 'Bin ein Fahrender Gesell' of 1880). These early songs could be mistaken for Schumann in some cases and for Wolf in others.
After his teenage years, Busoni abandoned the composition of songs for more than 30 years. According to the notes supplied by Bruns, "He rejected the all-too-bourgeois mall form, not least because he found himself incapable of contributing anything decisively new."With the five Goethe-Lieder of 1918-1924 included here, Busoni returned to the genre, having found through his work on Doktor Fallst a musical language that was more than what he called "footnotes to the text". As Bruns notes, we find in these songs "Busoni's absolute will to convert the essence of Goethe's ideas into a new expression in his own language". The accompaniment writing in these later songs is strikingly more dramatic and complex. The delightful final track, 'Reminiscenza Rossiniana', is a brief and witty parody written in 1923 for his friend and biographer Edward Dent.
Our access to Busoni's compositional life is significantly expanded by this recording. As far as I can tell, this is the only available recording of his songs. Even if the singer and accompanist were mediocre, this would be worth having. Fortunately, both are outstanding. Bruns has a clear, agile, and rich mid-weight baritone voice. Eisenlohr, the primary Naxos accompanist, is nimble and persuasive, showing steel where needed in the Goethe-Lieder without overwhelming the voice. The more I listen, the more I like this release.